View Full Version : Have the Reds ever had pitching? Version 2.0

10-30-2006, 11:59 AM
Last year about this time I wrote a piece on the Reds pitching history and only made it to 1949.


So far I've covered the next 16 years and here they are.


“Warren Giles was the type of general manager who would say, “Sign this contract or stay home.”

Hank Sauer

“There was no money in those days, even after my great season in 1947, I got only a small raise, up to $13,000.

I asked for more but that didn’t do any good.”

Ewell Blackwell

1956 91 63 .591 -.07
1957 80 74 .519 -.75
1958 76 78 .494 0.23
1955 75 79 .487 0.09
1959 74 80 .481 -.36
1954 74 80 .481 -.43
1952 69 85 .448 -.29
1953 68 86 .442 -.35
1951 68 86 .442 0.26
1950 66 87 .431 -.17

By the end of the 40’s and into the postwar grey flannel age of the 50’s the Reds were a team in constant tradition. Last in the league in attendance and only out done in mediocrity by the Pirates and Cubs. Lacking the pop the other teams had the Reds removed Goat Run in 1950, this extended the right field line to 366 feet, 3 seasons later they reinstalled it for the seating.

The 1951 Reds were perhaps the best pitching team in the decade. With Blackwell and Ken Raffensberger. In fact the staff had only one pitcher with a below average ERA, the Achilles heel was the hitting that year.

But that wouldn’t be the case for the rest of the decade.

Harry Perkowski 1.13 2.82 3.96
Frank Smith 0.76 3.20 3.96
Bud Byerly 0.68 3.27 3.96
Ken Raffensberger 0.52 3.43 3.96
Ewell Blackwell 0.52 3.44 3.96
Herm Wehmeier 0.26 3.70 3.96
Howie Fox 0.13 3.83 3.96
Willie Ramsdell -.08 4.04 3.96

Following the season general manager Warren Giles left the team to become the National League President (Housing the office in the Carew Tower)

With Gabe Paul at the helm the Reds continued on the same basic path that Giles had laid out, with one change, the trade market became more active in the Cincinnati arena, otherwise with low revenue and a limited scouting staff it was business as usual in Cincinnati.

Despite the effort the decade really belonged to three teams, the Dodgers, Giants and the Braves, after they moved to Milwaukee.

1 Dodgers 913 630 .592
2 Braves 854 687 .554
3 Giants 822 721 .533
4 Cardinals 776 762 .505
5 Phillies 766 773 .498
6 Reds 741 798 .481
7 Cubs 672 866 .437
8 Pirates 616 923 .400

Oddly enough the top three teams are also only three to move west in the National League.

Despite the sub .500 record for the decade the Reds laid a pathway to the franchise they are now. The fifties have long been recognized as the decade that blurred the national culture from tiny sub-cultures to one mono-culture the 50’s were a time when players were still your neighbors, the play by play announcer a friend and the team a source of deep civic pride… especially when doing battle with the constant bombardment of “look at me,” “look at me” coming from the eastern seaboard. In short the brand was established in the fifties and part of the brand is hitting the ball hard and hitting it long.

During the fifties the Reds pitching and team makeup was quite similar to now, pitching was fraught with guys who didn’t rank with the best in the league and guys that would never get you to the top. For the length of the decade the Reds could only boast 2 pitchers with over 100 games started and an ERA above league average.

Robin Roberts 3012 370 0.67
Warren Spahn 2823 350 1.06
Bob Rush 2046 278 0.40
Bob Friend 1976 262 0.06
Lew Burdette 1862 230 0.57
Don Newcombe 1773.2 246 0.42
Murry Dickson 1728.1 219 0.19
Johnny Antonelli 1722 241 0.80
Curt Simmons 1625 223 0.55
Harvey Haddix 1572.1 214 0.41
Sal Maglie 1558 214 0.79
Jim Hearn 1410 191 0.18
Joe Nuxhall 1341 176 0.05
Paul Minner 1197 166 0.02
Bob Buhl 1171 158 0.83
Vinegar Bend Mizell 1163 176 0.25
Sam Jones 1135 159 0.52
Johnny Podres 1027 150 0.24
Larry Jansen 982 136 0.42
Larry Jackson 926 108 0.24
Gene Conley 923 117 0.49
Ken Raffensberger 919 128 0.38
Preacher Roe 888 124 0.54
Don Drysdale 803 106 0.58
Tom Poholsky 754 104 0.01

Even more telling is the fact that the Reds had only 5 starters with 75 starts in the decade.


Joe Nuxhall 1341 176 0.05
Ken Raffensberger 919 128 0.38
Brooks Lawrence 778 99 -.13
Herm Wehmeier 721 93 -1.24
Art Fowler 702 87 -.27
Ewell Blackwell 596 81 0.44

The decades lack of true pitchers was highlighted by the Reds emergence as a slugging team, the team celebrated the 1956 teams home run accomplishment by giving each player a ring with the number 221 engraved on it. No rings for team ERA were issues in the fifties, despite being managed by two ex-catchers (Tebbets and Sewell) for most of the decade.

After decades of playing as a pitchers park the change in the game was felt at Crosley Field when the park effects skyrocketed in the decade of the fifties.

1950 4.32 112
1951 3.70 99
1952 4.02 100
1953 4.63 102
1954 4.50 112
1955 3.94 113
1956 3.84 117
1957 4.62 118
1958 3.73 114
1959 4.31 111

Slugging teams and poor pitching can do that to a park, currently the Reds are going through that at the GAB, it will be interesting to see if the Reds can correct that with better pitching on their end of the equation. However back then the increased slugging plus the Reds past lackadaisical scouting in the war years left a talent void to wide to breach year in and year out, instead the team created the model that has been the Reds model for 50 years now.

As the 1956 season started the Reds were flush with power and a revamped staff that included Brooks Lawrence and Hal Jeffcoat, despite only scoring 14 more runs than they did in 1955 the Reds won 16 more games due to an improved pitching staff. Much like 1999the Reds caught lightning in a bottle and the teams slugging and run for first brought in more than a million fans for the Reds, making them the last of the original 16 to draw a million fans to the park.

That 1956 season is a milestone season in the Reds history, the revenue generated enabled the team to install an impressive new scoreboard, finagle more parking from the city as well as dangle thoughts for a new stadium. For the organization it entrenched an approach that is a large part of the team makeup even today.

That would be get your hitters first and let pitching take care of itself approach.

Which two teams have winning records since 1946 and a below league average team ERA?

Answer: Reds and the Red Sox.

Part of this approach can be seen in patterns that the Reds began to traverse in 1956 and the mid 1950’s. The Reds established something I see year after year during that decade and they are as followed.

1. Get a LH from another team
2. Find soem diamonds in teh Junk
3. Bullpen Strength
4. Local Hero
5. Gamble on Talent

1 - Find Southpaws As a longtime Reds fan I’d be remiss in not mentioning the left handed pitchers that came from elsewhere and anchored the staff, or filled up innings.

This path was blazed by Ken Raffensberger, a junkballer with a forkball and a head for pitching, Ken is followed by hurlers like Jim Merritt, Fred Norman, Danny Jackson, Pete Schourek, John Smiley, Denny Neagle and even Eric Milton (in theory)

Fred Norman 1315 196 0.25
Ken Raffensberger 919 128 0.38
John Smiley 775.1 123 0.03
Jim Merritt 600 83 -.51
Danny Jackson 493.2 76 -.06
Gerry Arrigo 431.1 57 -.60
Pete Schourek 423.2 68 -.07

2 - Find some shiny stuff in the junk When Art Fowler finally got into the Reds sights he was 31 years old and had been toiling in their system for a few years. Art was a WW2 vet, so the minors to him were nothing more than a walk in the park. The youngest of ten, his older brother pitched a year for the Cardinals in 1924. Thirty years late Art made his debut for the Reds and his presence on the staff is a constant to this day, the league average right-hander with more grit than stuff (big shout out to Paul Wilson). Art started 87 games for the Reds and vanished to the west coast and later gained notoriety as Billy Martins drinking buddy and pitching coach.

BORN: 10/30/1898
MLB DEBUT: 7/29/1924

BORN: 7/3/1922
MLB DEBUT: 4/17/1954

3 - Bullpen Strength Prior to the fifties a deadball player and a disciple of his managed the Reds, this combination led to a slow transfer to the offense of the post war age as well as the use of the bullpen. The Reds have been using the bullpen for year as the buoy to the staff’s weakness, inconsistent starters. This strength was first established in the fifties with the deployment of Frank Smith as the closer, Hersh Freeman, who was the Reds first bonafide closer, later eclipsed him, only to give way himself to Jim Bronson later on in the decade and on and on and on.

To illustrate the point is the list of pitchers who started less than 20 games yet finished more than 50 games.

If we divide the search into two sections 1900-1949 and 1950-2005 the difference is drastic, with only one entry for the first era and chances are that one is peppered with more opportunities that were more mop up for a bad team than locking down the win for the local nine.

Don Brennan 302 16 57


Pedro Borbon 920.2 4 255
Clay Carroll 856.2 15 282
Scott Sullivan 662.2 0 109
John Franco 528 0 286
Frank Smith 457 7 161
Rob Dibble 450.2 0 196
Jim Brosnan 332 11 109
Wayne Granger 330 0 155
Gabe White 329.1 9 69
Scott Williamson 322.1 10 110
Doug Bair 318.2 0 148
Tom Hall 294 15 59
Hersh Freeman 292.2 0 100
John Riedling 274.1 8 52
Hector Carrasco 269.1 0 78
Bill Henry 267 0 146
Rawly Eastwick 258.2 0 122
Jeff Shaw 249 0 121
Ted Abernathy 241 0 114
Rob Murphy 238.2 0 63
Randy Myers 218.2 12 77
Jeff Brantley 218.1 0 154
Stan Belinda 203.1 0 54
Bill Scherrer 194.2 2 56
Will McEnaney 190 0 68

4 - Local Talent During the fifties no Red was more popular than Joe Nuxhall, Joe not only was the Reds top left handed starter, but Joe was a local legend and the youngest player ever in major league ball. Many a promotion was concocted around the close knitReds and many of them involved Hamilton Joe and the Reds marketing department paid attention to the crowds reaction as well. Since that time the team makes an effort to promote local players as well as their roots to the community. The team can boast a long list of luminaries who played in the tri-state area and it has never hurt the Reds to hitch their wagon to them from time to time.

Joe Nuxhall 176 0.05 1341

5 - Gamble on Talent What Reds team hasn’t had a pitcher that the team was hoping would give them more then they gave someone prior? Not many that’s for sure. The 1956 Reds bought Brooks Lawrence from the Pacific Coast League Oakland Oaks (Think Bobby Mattick had a say in this?)Brooks was a 31 year old with experience in the Negro Leagues and St. Louis. His 1956 season of 19-10 and a 3.99 ERA was a major reason the team was able to outperform the preseason expectations and yet his quick descent to mediocrity later on should have been expected. Brooks emergence from nowhere can be seen in the resurrection of Bob Purkey, Fred Norman, Pete Schorek, Pete Harnisch, Elmer Dessens and Steve Parris.

By the end of the decade the Reds were finally producing quality young arms through their scouting system, players like Jim O’Toole, Ken Hunt and Jim Maloney were in the wings with the promise of matching some of the arms being developed in Los Angeles and San Francisco. With the emergence of former pitcher Fred Hutchinson as the manager of the team in the waning days of the 1959 season the future for the Reds pitching looked brighter than it had since the early 1940’s.


"You know how much stuff he had? He had a nickel curve, a nickel fast ball, a purpose pitch and a million dollars worth of heart, that's what he had."

Gene Mauch On Fred Hutchinson.

Do you know your team?

Do you know the patterns that they drag you through, the whims that the men who run the team lean on? Every team has their quirks, repeat performances, twists; they all go through moments that define them, moments that cause future moves, or future patterns for the fans to fret over or boast about.

Want a goofy pattern?

For the Reds it was pitching, plain and simple, pitching was and has always been the problem since Lucy and Rickey took the country by storm. As we delved into the fifties we found the Reds awash in rumors of moving to New York City, and signing pitchers.

The success of the 1956 team was similar to the success of the 1999 team, it threw the team that was not expected to compete into a competing phase, this led to a couple of seasons of success and then a crash and burn a year after the Reds manager made the cover of Time Magazine for his calm demeanor. After hiring Mayo Smith the Reds pitching spiraled to the bottom of the league, despite leading the league in almost all the offensive categories. It was then that Gabe Paul made perhaps his best executive decision as a the Reds General Manager, when in 1959 Paul fired Smith and threw the keys of the franchise to former pitcher Fred Hutchinson, it was Hutchinson's 3rd job managing in the majors, and he was determined to make the best of it.

After struggling to form a cohesive staff throughout the 50's it was up to Hutchinson to turn the team around, and to Hutch that meant the pitching, and to Hutchinson pitching was not just throwing the ball, it was a war between the batter and the hurler and that meant anything goes, which in this case applied to the Reds who were a team that was looking for pitching.

During Hutches first season, the Reds (In the eight team National League) came in next to last in allowing runs. In his second season they allowed the fewest in the league as the Reds surprised all of baseball by taking the NL Pennant.

Despite the fact that the 60's were the pitching era, the era wasn't really an era the Reds franchise can look back at fondly for that particular aspect of the game. If they do it's mostly because of Hutchinson's influence.

When he took the helm there wasn't much to work with, some bonus babies and some guys that probably reminded Hutch a lot of the older Hutch who had to abandon his fastball and go to his slider and change. This aspect of the game stuck throughout his tenure and by the time he left the team in 1964 almost half of the Reds starts had been manned by men who depended more on breaking balls and guile, then on speed and overpowering movement and during the Hutch era 46% of the starts were by pitchers who used a curve as their money pitch.

1 Jim O'Toole 162
2 Bob Purkey 150
3 Joey Jay 116
4 Jim Maloney 102
5 Joe Nuxhall 66
6 John Tsitouris 47
7 Jay Hook 38
8 Ken Hunt 22
9 Cal McLish 21
10 Don Newcombe 15
This approach worked great for a couple of seasons during the Hutch era, garnering first rate staffs in 1961 and 1964 and a couple of 4th place finishes in 62 and 63, but it was a crapshoot to lean on so many touch pitchers, everything has to go right for those types of pitchers as evidenced by the 2006 version of Bronson Arroyo, and when half your innings are coming from those types cross your fingers and make a wish.

A tough pitcher and a tough man, Hutchinson was the last Reds manager (aside from the brief 1966 appearance by Don Hefner) who was a throwback player and had played before the players union changed the game forever. Hutch (the former pitcher) hated walks. This was perhaps the reason behind the slow emergence of Jim Maloney, who took several years to get his k/bb ratio to an acceptable level before he was slotted in to the rotation. In the early part of the decade when the Reds were the surprise team the anchors of the staff were curveballer Joey Jay and preeminent junkballer Bob Purkey, added to that mix were one of Gabe Paul's bonus signings Ken Hunt who sported a curveball as his primary pitch, in what would be his only season in the big leagues, spot starter and reliever Jay Hook also was a curveball artist and when Hunt went south late in 1961 DeWitt went out and got curveballer Ken Johnson to take his starts. Enriching the staff with even more junk.

Also factoring in to the Reds surge on the pitching side of the ledger was the departure of Ed Bailey, this plus the emergence of Johnny Edwards and a trade for Darrell Johnson might have solidified the younger Reds pitchers state of mind on the mound. Bailey was said to be a hard man to reason with on the field of play and according to Jim O'Toole he intimidated the young Claude Osteen (who was traded in 1961) and attempted to do it to O'Toole as well. O'Toole also credited Darrell Johnson with helping him take the leap to the next level as a starter. Part of this is evidenced by O'Toole's, 2.03 August ERA and 2.53 September ERA, all after Darrell Johnson was acquired in mid August.

As with most Reds teams that we have come to know the early 60's teams had strength in the bullpen. With Bill Henry on left side throwing heat and Jim Brosnan coming from the right side the National League was getting a different look at the Reds late inning pitchers, a completely different look than the starting staff junkballers were giving them.

Several years of these combinations buoyed the Reds up in the early part of the decade, but in a decade of power pitching almost every team had a hurler that was known for unhittable stuff, and the Reds were one of those teams, unfortunately his emergence coincided with the demise of the Reds bullpen mojo.

This of course is Jim Maloney and it's in Maloney that we can see a bit of the magic of the pitching era on the west end.


Jim Maloney is the only other Red aside from Mario Soto to have consecutive 200 strikeout seasons. Maloney did it four straight seasons.

Jim Maloney pitched 3 no hitters in the 60's and won 15 games or more 6 straight seasons.

In short if the Reds have had a long running ACE in the course of my lifetime it was Jim Maloney.

The year Maloney arrived as a player to be reckoned with Bill Henry and Jim Brosnan departed as the stalwarts of the Reds vaunted BP, Henry became mediocre and Brosnan the writer became replaceable. Even then the strength of staff could only be lifted as high as the bullpen could reach. The Reds won 184 games in 1962 and 1963, unfortunately the Dodgers won 201 games and the Giants won 191 games.

It was a hard time to win in a league that was fast over taking the American League as the premier league in professional baseball.

In 1964 the Cincinnati Reds were close enough to print ticket to the World Series, close enough to taste the flavor of 1961 again. The 64 team a team ERA of almost half a run better than the league average, and in the end it hinged on one game on the last day of the season against the Phillies, a team throwing their ace Jim Bunning. Maloney who had thrown eleven innings three days prior had begged off the responsibility of the start, he was ready to go if a playoff occurred, but not that day.

So the starters flipped a coin and John Tsitouris was chosen.

Tsitouris who had been obtained from Kansas City prior to the 1961 season for Joe Nuxhall (who was now his teammate) was a short right-hander with one good pitch.

A curveball.

On that October day the Reds lost 10-0 and the pitchers who got in the game represented a laundry list of the type of pitchers Fred Hutchinson preferred (or was stuck with) starters who threw junk and relievers who threw smoke.


But Hutch wasn't there to make Maloney pitch, Hutch wasn't there to make the last week better so that the last game of the season wasn't falling in the lap of John Tsitouris.

He was dieing and a month later would succumb to cancer.

After Hutch died the Reds traded Purkey and from the list above by 1966 only Sammy Ellis and Billy McCool were major contributors to the Reds, a team that had finished 7th in runs allowed in 1965, but rode a magnificent offense to a 89 win season. By 1966 it was worse and the team would fall to 8th in runs allowed, even with the inclusion of fastballer Milt Pappas, an arm obtained to compliment the fast rising Maloney, plus the magnificent offense waned and the Reds fell to .475 winning percentage and were put up for sale by Bill Dewitt, whose deals with the city (and Baltimore) had led to an impasse that couldn't be repaired. Entering the 1967 season under new ownership and with a new General Manager (Bob Howsam) the Reds could claim only Jim Maloney as being a pitcher who could be called a Hutchinson product. Perhaps that says more about what the Reds were giving Hutchinson to work with then it does about Hutchinson.

Johnny Footstool
10-30-2006, 12:32 PM
If you aren't already doing so, you should shop this to some publishers. Excellent stuff.:thumbup:

Tony Cloninger
10-30-2006, 01:27 PM
Agreed.......fun stuff to read and the realize how the 60's teams almost parrallel the middle 80's team......almost good enough, but something was always holding them back.

They seem to alternate between good pitch-no hit (1963, 1967, 1985, 1988) to great hit and no pitch (1965, 1968, 1969, 1986, 1987).....The 1962 team was probably the best out of all the teams in the 60's, IMO.

10-30-2006, 02:48 PM
In 1990, I believe the Reds led the league in pitching up to the last few weeks when Montreal squeaked past them.....and IIRC, the Reds have NEVER led the league in pitching.

In 1976, I believe the Reds were either 2nd or 3rd in pitching.

But this is a GREAT article WOY. Again proof that you are da' man. And I agree that this would be a HUGE upgrade if it found the Enquirer.

10-30-2006, 04:40 PM
Good stuff as always WOY

10-30-2006, 06:15 PM
Great post WOY.
In 1964, while the Reds finished second in team ERA to the Dodgers, 3.07 to 2.95, the Reds actually allowed the fewest runs in the league, 566 to LA's 572. When one considers that the Dodgers played their home games in Dodger Stadium whereas the Reds had Crosley Field as their home park, there is a pretty good argument that the Reds had the best pitching staff in the NL in 1964.

10-30-2006, 06:20 PM
your site is good stuff too...do you work? maybe i should answer that question cause i spent all day reading your site, but i did have a really good day of work so i got that goin for me. good stuff to read when the "winter time-no baseball blues" gotcha down.

10-30-2006, 09:21 PM
One of the best posts ever!:thumbup:

10-30-2006, 10:54 PM
too bad they did not keep Mike Cuellar

Falls City Beer
10-30-2006, 11:14 PM
too bad they did not keep Mike Cuellar

Sing, muse, of the fury of Billy McCool.

10-30-2006, 11:16 PM
Billy, the fireballing lefthander from Indiana, forced to shine on the last weekend of the 1`964 season performed nobly but alas the squeeze bunt by Jerry May and Alex Johnson's uncharacteristic fielding prowess doomed the Rhinelanders

10-31-2006, 11:42 AM
When one considers that the Dodgers played their home games in Dodger Stadium whereas the Reds had Crosley Field as their home park, there is a pretty good argument that the Reds had the best pitching staff in the NL in 1964. For sure, the Dodgers Park was a scant 78 on the Park Factor and Crosley was 104. The Dodgers gave up 1289 hits and the Reds 1306. The Reds were 2nd in the league with 54 complete games.

do you work?
Yes, I don't sleep much though.

Anyway thanks to all who liked it, I have a trunk load of this stuff that I have no idea what I'll ever do with, so I'll occasionally I'm going to bring it over here.

10-31-2006, 12:10 PM
The sedulous lucubration of west of you is boundless. His comprehensive disquisition is sui generis, He is the ne plus ultra of the board. I wish though he would compose an essay on the relative merits of Jesus Sanchez, Juan Cerros and Juan Padilla, and compare and contrast their performance with those of Mark Watson and Aaron myette